What I Played: I Platinum’d ( 100% the game ) on Playstation 4 in 40+ hours. Massacred thousands of Uruks & avenged my friends more times then I can count.
Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor is a game that takes place within the universe of The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. SHADOW takes place between The Hobbit & LOTR with a storyline completely separate from those events although still influenced by them.
The game is made by Monolith Productions & published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. SHADOW is a game much like its hero is bound by its lore & world, so how does it stand amongst the pantheon of Tolkien’s writings?
Pretty well actually.
All pictures from here on out are taken directly from my Playstation 4.
SHADOW tells the story of a lone ranger named Talion who is murdered along with his family by the forces of Sauron during an invasion. Talion however is brought back from death by having his soul tied to that of a Wraith with the sole purpose of avenging his families deaths & exacting revenge upon those who murdered him so that he can finally know peace.
Overall, the storyline of SHADOW is interesting & stands on its own for the most part to be an engaging tale of revenge, madness & heroism that pits Talion & his ethereal partner against the forces of Sauron into something memorable.
Talion, voiced by Troy Baker, is a pretty standard hero & fits right in with the world Tolkien created. He’s rugged, experienced & only wishes to free himself from the confines of his situation. He’s two parts Aragorn with a dash of Legolas & a sprinkle of brooding from Batman.
Without giving too much away it’s really the Wraith that Talion is connected to that feels the most fleshed out. This characters story is a bit unexpected but once you find out who the Wraith is & what their importance means to the world of Middle-earth, it’s definitely a delightful surprise.
The storyline does leave enough wiggle room for sequels & the ending of the game is not exactly fulfilling with the final boss fight feeling strangely off-putting which didn’t leave me with a sense of fulfilment in the end. It feels like it ends deliberately to churn out more games & I wish Monolith didn’t cheese the ending the way that they did.
Thankfully though, the gameplay makes up for the ending.
The core concepts of SHADOW are very similar to that of the Batman Arkham & Assassin’s Creed games. You have two giant playable areas to rummage in ranging from the murderous lands of Mordor to the lush grasslands of Nurn. The game is open world & you’re allowed to do whatever you see fit basically.
You have three forms of gameplay ranging from Sword, Bow & Dagger. The sword represents the combat of the game which pits Talion against the Uruk underlings that Sauron commands. The combat is very familiar & blatantly copied from the Batman Arkham games.
Your attacks are mapped to the exact same functions with square being attack, triangle is counter, circle is stun & X is evade. You can then combine those buttons for other effects like combo finishers, branding, draining & wraith attacks which can kill multiple enemies at once.
Combat starts off simplistic but as you progress through the game & acquire abilities your options greatly increase. You can purchase abilities that increase your combo multipliers if you focus on the Ranger class tree or stealth finishers/draining attacks if you go Wraith.
You can do both though.
The other two styles are dagger & bow, with dagger being all about stealth & stabbing Uruks to death & being undetectable. The bow is all about range & when you combine it with your sword attacks the combat turns into something of a beautiful dance as you massacre waves of enemies.
You can also upgrade your weapons by doing quest lines that in turn make your weapons more versatile & do more damage. You can also buy more rune slots on your weapons & equip your gear with effects ranging from increasing your damage at certain combo multipliers or focus regeneration on a headshot kill.
But in order to obtain the necessary components to upgrade your abilities, weapons, runes or stats you need to kill these creepy looking guys. Which brings up to the big game mechanic of SHADOW.
The Nemesis System.
The Nemesis System is all about the military standings of the Uruks you can kill in the lands of Mordor. Early on in the game I encountered many Uruks who gave me hell & some even killed me. When you die these Uruks get promoted & increase in power which in turn pisses you off & causes you wanting to slaughter these monsters in their sleep.
What’s interesting is that you can kill Uruks to damage Sauron’s armies but you can also dominate these beasts & control their minds to create power struggles between captains & even the all-mighty Warchief’s eventually too. But what makes it so fun especially later on in the game is how varied & strategic it can get.
By upsetting the balance you cause stronger targets to show their presence allowing you to create even more chaos amongst Sauron’s forces which leads to some of the best moments in the game. I also love how you can mortally wound an Uruk, leave him for dead only for that same Uruk to pursue you later on & look different depending on how you messed them up.
Some Uruk’s start out like simpletons but eventually evolve into adversaries I wish I took out earlier because of my hubris for letting them survive the previous encounter. Once these Uruk’s become captains they develop weaknesses & strengths that you can interrogate other Uruk’s about to discover vital information by allowing the Wraith to distort the minds of your enemies.
By dominating your foes you can reveal vital information about fellow captains or warchief’s as well as place death threats on targets to increase the award when you kill that particular target. But in return for that death threat that particular Uruk will gain bodyguards & extra power in order to entice the entire challenge.
But then you can interrogate the bodyguards of that target & brand them & create power struggles in order to allow your thralls the ability to infiltrate the ranks of your enemies.
And by allowing your controlled thralls to win duels, power struggles, beast hunts the list goes on you can turn the enemies strengths against them in order to level the playing field. This in turn creates content indefinitely so you could technically keep playing SHADOW for as long as you like.
I had a particular Uruk that gave me hell which required me to expose his weaknesses to finally defeat him.
Zog here was a pain in my ass as his only weakness was being burned & he couldn’t be shot with range attacks, hit with melee attacks or killed by stealth attacks. After several attempts upon his life, each resulting in me escaping barely with my own, I finally lured Zog & his men to a broken down temple which had a campfire.
I waited for Zog to march in full of bravado before silently dispatching his mates until it was only me & his putrid self left. I knew I couldn’t best him in anything, so I carefully parried hits as I inched slowly towards the campfire.
I flung to the side & slammed Zog with attacks to push him back & Zog laughed knowing I couldn’t hurt him. I couldn’t hurt him, but I did manage to knock him far enough that he unfortunately tripped into fire.
Now exposed to his weakness, Zog became nothing but a mere fly to me. I was able to damage him until he laid defeated on his knees before me begging for mercy. But oh how many times he caused me to run away licking my wounds as he grew in power, I finally stood triumphant against my foe.
I raised my sword & dug it into his body lunging away from him in a spectacular finish that ended Zog forever.
These are the best moments of SHADOW OF MORDOR, the moments you create in your own space. The encounters that are forged in your own unique way that leads to truly memorable moments that define the very notion of interactive entertainment. Zog had nothing to do with the story, he was a powerful enemy I encountered because I decided to let him live instead of dispatching him when he was weak.
But he grew stronger & I forgot about him as I was too busy with other things. SHADOW makes death meaningful & makes the concept of procedurally generated bosses interesting.
It’s the strongest new addition to the genre, in my opinion.
But there are also problems with The Nemesis System as well as other things. So lets talk about that too.
The Nemesis System is a very interesting & fleshed out concept that gives meaning to death & creates encounters that stick with you. The only problem with it is the system doesn’t do much once you’ve become insanely overpowered.
Near the end of the game where I had upgraded all my weapons to maximum, bought every ability & purchased all increases to my health, focus & other things The Nemesis System became less impactful.
Without dying, the system can’t exactly operate as intended. There were moments where I had cleared out entire networks of Uruk captains & their leaders that actually ended up needing me to manually advance time so that stronger enemies could appear.
See you can fast travel in SHADOW & you can also manually advance time which has the same effect as dying by promoting new enemies & creating new adversaries, but without having to bite the dust. You eventually become so insanely powerful that dying isn’t really an option unless you colossally screw up somehow.
The Nemesis System needs to be tweaked in future games so that new enemies & encounters of equal strength are created even if you don’t die very often in order to keep things interesting. I went a while without any real challenge because there was nobody left to fight me that could pose a threat unless I advanced time.
It’s not a huge problem or anything, just simply make it a bit more dynamic than it already absurdly is & you’re golden. Besides that like I said before the ending of the game sucks & I also ran into a lot of invisible wall glitches.
Also some of the environment feels like it restricts movement with weird arching rooftops & questionably placed obstacles that limit free movement or climbing for no real reason. Talion can interact & smartly adapt to any situation except when a rooftop randomly curves in such a way that you can’t climb it yet in other places he can.
So basically the ending isn’t fulfilling, some invisible wall glitches, climbing glitches & if you’re good enough you can make The Nemesis System almost completely optional unless you manually make it happen.
But besides that & I guess being pretty derivative with copying other games so heavily, you got a good game here.
MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF MORDOR is an exceptionally fun open world action game set in the beautifully crafted world of Tolkien. With a deep combat system, sprawling environment, procedurally generated side content & The Nemesis System brings a whole new angle to a well treaded genre.
The ending is however unfulfilling, there’s some minor annoying glitches & as you gain power The Nemesis System can be exploited & almost often ignored unless you manually interact with it. But as far as games based on established franchises go, SHADOW OF MORDOR is an amazing feat that is sure to be the sleeper hit of the year.
If you love The Lord Of The Rings or want a brutal open world action game, this is for you.
Deep rewarding combat system, upgrades, abilities & options
Open world is big enough & dense enough to feel compelling
Interesting twist on the lore & the Wraith is an interesting character
The Nemesis System when working as intended is amazing
The Uruk enemies feel unique & varied
Fantastic game based on an established franchise
THE NEUTRAL ( Could be either pro or con depending on you )
Feels a bit derivative
The Nemesis System can be exploited or ignored near end
By: MILAN JEGENJAN Email: AscendancyMilan@hotmail.com
What I Played: Maxed out my Human Titan to Level 30, Awoken Warlock is 22 & Exo Hunter is 17-18. Played ridiculous amounts of Crucible & defeated multiple Strikes on the hardest modes. I also beat The Vault Of Glass on HARD & cleared it every single week since release. I played a lot of DESTINY.
DESTINY is the next chapter in Bungie’s catalogue of creating blockbuster first-person shooters with captivating worlds & engrossing multiplayer. With the Halo era behind, the future lies with DESTINY.
But is it, pun intended, fulfilling that destiny?
Let me start off by saying that this review being a month after release is due to me needing to properly experience & evaluate everything this game has to offer. So this review is based off the experiences of a Level 30 Titan who has defeated the HARD MODE of Vault Of Glass & destroyed ever single challenge, tribulation & mode into oblivion.
All pictures from here on out are directly captured from my Playstation 4.
DESTINY is a polarizing experience that I feel is being hit with a maelstrom of negativity for both legit & plain ridiculous reasons. The game is full of great concepts & systems but it does falter in ways as well. This is going to be a lengthy review, so lets start with the story of DESTINY.
DESTINY takes place after a cataclysmic event that almost wipes out humanity called “The Collapse”. The gist of the story is that mankind discovered a floating sphere on Mars called The Traveler which bestowed humanity with an age of miracles from vast technological discoveries that led to human lifespans tripling, the terraforming of neighbouring planets & the vast expansion of man.
Three centuries go by & The Darkness arrives, the ancient enemy of The Traveler. Our solar system is engulfed & triggers The Collapse, an event where everything humanity has strived for is either destroyed or lost to the eons of time. The Traveler in its last breath holds back The Darkness, saving humanity from extinction.
Humanity is saved but The Traveler is damaged & lies in silence on the last free city on Earth. Your character is a Guardian, a warrior revived from death by a Ghost, sort of like a companion made by The Traveler to guide you, in order to retake humanities golden age that was lost.
The storyline is interesting & offers enough on the surface to keep me interested but its presentation is what irked me. There is indeed a storyline here but it feels unfinished, with no real explanation of anything really without the player having to consult a mechanic outside of the actual game—-The Grimoire.
The Grimoire is a codex of information that holds myriads of lore about DESTINY’s universe but it sits on an app on your phone or computer instead of the actual game. By the end of the story, you’ll feel unfulfilled as if more needed to happen & that the game is definitely holding out on you to purchase DLC if you want to see more.
The concept is interesting as it requires you to delve into the lore outside of the game, but I can see how this method isn’t perfect for everyone. I have friends who are Level 29 & have no idea what’s happening in this world or who they’re actually fighting because of their lack of concentration poisoned by the abnormalities of societal impunity combined with cross platform of story that needs to be experienced outside of the actual game.
I personally found the approach interesting as I began to read about certain aspects of DESTINY when I was out with friends or while waiting for my coffee to be ready in the morning. I feel like in the future DESTINY needs to fulfill that Bungie-esque story that fans have come to expect but keep the app as a companion for those who want to learn more as well.
You unlock Grimoire cards by completing objectives in the game which felt somewhat similar to Dark Souls with players needing to actively play the game & seek out information instead of being force fed it. In a game where you’re reborn into a universe where all forms of information for the most part are lost to time & space ( literally ) it makes sense. If you want to know more about an alien race, you fight them & by encountering them you unlock cards to read.
But again Bungie should in the future add much more story as well as an in-game Grimoire system for players to read up the lore without having to seek another device to pursue it. But I still stand by my opinion of that I like the Grimoire system, but I totally get it if you hate it.
But that’s the story in a nutshell. Next up is Gameplay.
I have to say that the gameplay side of DESTINY is something equal parts addictive & satisfying. It’s clearly a Bungie game with mechanics & feel similar to Halo but with slight variations & additions. Your character can level up by fighting enemies & turning in Bounties to further your characters potential.
By killing enemies you obtain abilities which range from various grenade types, attributes, super powers, jumps & melee attacks. Each character has two classes which each focus on specific play styles. Above is my Striker Titan Class from very early on in DESTINY. This class focuses on melee combat, electrical damage & massive explosions. But the Defender sub-class is much more defence oriented which is perfect for fights like The Vault Of Glass.
Every classes various sub classes feels unique in their own way but shares the archetype of having the same concepts like each class has 3 different kinds of grenades so that it’s easy to grasp. This customization is simple & I would love for it to become more complicated in the future but as it stands it’s great.
You can also drive vehicles around the big open world areas to explore, but DESTINY does feel somewhat linear in design with rudimentary mission structure that doesn’t deviate much. Most missions require you going somewhere, dropping off your Ghost to unlock or decode something while you fight waves of enemies.
However some of the best things about DESTINY are the subtle nuances, like how the controllers vibration & feedback is felt when reloading your gun or jumping off & landing on the ground. You can feel every shot fire, every fist hit your enemies skull & the feedback feels so natural & responsive that I absolutely love it.
When I reload my gun, it feels like the character is actually doing it. It sounds weird but if you’ve played it you know what I mean. You can feel your Guardian yank out the empty magazine & replace it, it’s strange at first but eventually becomes second nature. I loved it.
The other gameplay options are brought down to various types from PvE ( Player vs Environment ) content like Strikes which are like dungeons in an MMO to The Crucible’s PvP ( Player vs Player ) content that well y’know you fight people.
This is the strongest aspect of DESTINY & has been the crowning achievement in my opinion, which is cooperative gameplay. Teaming up with friends to tackle a Strike or Raid is effortless & immensely fun. I also love texting my friends on times we’ll meet up in-game to do something or gather up people to go online & crush the skulls of our fellow players in The Crucible.
DESTINY has a social aspect to it that I haven’t felt since the days of Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or Halo 3. The game is fun by yourself, but playing with others is really the best aspect of the entire game. If you don’t have friends to play with, just go on forums or Destiny LFG & find other players to tackle content.
I’ve become buds with people I’ve never met from places like New Zealand, America, Costa Rica & Australia due to the social interactions of this game. One player in particular I met in The Tower as he randomly waved at me & I asked him if he wanted to do a Strike. Now I play with him everyday & we shoot shit with jokes & talk for hours as we dominate objectives together.
The feel of companionship & connection I have to my real life friends & gaming friends is what honestly keeps me coming back for more. Is the game repetitive at times? Oh hell yeah. But it’s made way more fun when I’m talking to my friends about conspiracy theories or making jokes about stupid things that happened to us in real life while we shoot away at aliens in outer space.
I also really enjoy the armour customization where you see abilities sometimes unique to certain pieces of armour or weapons. What’s also cool is how if you get multiple drops of similar gear they have different abilities. You might get the same gun twice but one version has explosive rounds & increase range while another shoots better from the hip & collects ammo back into the magazine if you miss.
It keeps the thirst for loot real & constant no matter your level.
Multiplayer is also really fun with well designed maps & game modes that feel balanced. Although I would of course like to see new game modes that are more original, but since its Bungie they can easily add new modes in the future.
But as it stands The Crucible is relegated to tried & true modes like Clash ( Team Deathmatch ) or Control ( Domination ) as well as others. I think my biggest problem with the game right now is the inconsistent reward system of multiplayer.
Some times you get really lucky, like I did here a couple of weeks ago.
My PSN is Shoryyuken.
Yeah I kind of screamed when I got that from a random match. But notice how I did second best? It’s really annoying when someone down on the leaderboard gets amazing things without contributing nearly as much though.
When you see players who do bad & get rewarded immensely, it’s annoying. Especially when you have players who sit in corners the entire match doing nothing & getting Legendary weapons & armour for literally no effort.
It’s my biggest peeve with the game & I hope it gets addressed in the same manner the Engram ( Loot ) system did for other aspects of the game. There’s also limited voice chat but since I always talk in party chat it’s fine but I can understand why people are mad about that too.
To be honest, DESTINY has quite a few problems going for it. Lets talk.
Apart from an inconsistent reward system that sometimes rewards you for doing well or doing nothing, the game also has limited voice chat, a lack of in-game story & the requirement of grinding for hours for items.
Or maybe no grinding, it all depends on RNG ( Random Number Generator ) which makes every reward in the game random. You could reach Level 25 in a few hours if RNG Jesus smiles on you or not depending on the game. It’s much more lenient now with fixes to the Engram System but it’s still a bit weird.
I also feel irked that your choice of race/gender/class have little to no relevance in the story. I main as a Human Male Titan but my Hunter is a Exo Male, but it doesn’t make a difference in the story. The supporting cast is also pretty shallow with little explanation as to who they are or why you should care about them.
The writing is also sometimes very very lazy.
And I also wish there was more to do in the Tower as well as more variations to Strikes to keep things more interesting. Heroic & Nightfall Strikes have modifiers similar to Halo’s skull system & I would love to be able to modify Strikes however I want in order to increase the chance of rewards.
The events so far as well have felt interesting but questionable. The Queen’s Wrath was cool when I found out you could get Ascendant Shards but as soon as Bungie patched it, the content became pointless. The inclusion of the recent Iron Banner, which was supposed to be hardcore PVP where stats mattered, ended up not being as advertised.
I would also like to suggest the ability to collect/turn in Bounties through the Destiny App so I can stop having to go to the Tower every time & interrupt my gameplay sessions. If I can equip gear on my phone & have it influence my game immediately, do it for Bounties too.
But isn’t it weird that I still kinda love this game amidst the problems?
Honestly when it comes down to it DESTINY is a great game that is riddled with annoying hiccups. But in time, it can become something amazing & there’s enough there for me to stick around as long as Bungie listens to its fan base & addresses the concerns, which it totally is.
Like I said the loot system is fixed, well for PvE anyways not exactly PvP yet but y’know. And they are gonna announce voice chat options in-game for multiplayer in The Crucible & other things early next week as well as feedback on new game modes & events too.
So they are listening, but Bungie needs to address things quicker or people will move on. But it’s still a great game, after all every light has a beginning.
DESTINY is an incredibly addicting, socially charged multiplayer game that shines its brightest when you’re playing with friends. With a deep loot system, responsive pitch-perfect gameplay & RPG-elements it keeps the experience fun throughout with an exceptional focus on social interactions between players.
But it does have its shortcomings with repetitive mission structure, a story that hinges on a companion application & an inconsistent reward system when it comes to player vs player content.
As it stands, DESTINY is the evolution of Halo that I wanted so dearly for years & I hope in time it reaches the true potential it is so clearly capable of. DESTINY is worth playing for sure, especially if you have friends to join in on the crusade.
Thank you for reading this long review, I hope this helps you decide if DESTINY is for you.
Incredible cooperative gameplay
Rewarding loot system & customization ( PvE wise )
Companion App keeps you connected
Ambitious & addicting as well as very fun
THE NEUTRAL ( Neutral is good or bad depending on your preference )
Companion App needed to fully flesh out the story
Storyline feels unfinished
Player vs Player reward system feels inconsistent
Events need incentive for high level players
Mission structure requires work as well as voice acting
By: MILAN JEGENJAN Email: AscendancyMilan@hotmail.com